Endometreosis Alleviated By Diet?

Endometriosis is one of the more common, and less commonly diagnosed reproductive issues for women. Although many women have it, few are given an upfront diagnosis. Although all the symptoms may be present, there is no way to determine with any certainty that someone has endometriosis unless a laparoscopy is done. Because a laparoscopy is a surgery, and therefore a risk, they are not generally conducted unless the woman is trying, and having difficulty conceiving. A laparoscopy may also be given if, after at least one year of birth control, a woman’s symptoms of severe PMS, lower back pain, or pain with sex, have not lessened.

One of the frustrations that women experience with this disease is that so many are clumped into this grey area of being told that all their symptoms match endometriosis, but that there is no way of knowing for certain unless a laproscopy is done. The surgical diagnostic method for this disease has made it severely under-diagnosed. Many women who experience severe menstrual pain as teenagers do not even discover until their 20s what endometriosis is, let alone that this might be an explanation for the menstrual pain they have endured throughout their lives. And, unless they are trying to conceive at that point in their lives, many of those women will be told that the only thing that they can do to halt the symptoms, and hopefully the growth of endometriosis is to go on birth control; which keeps the hormones that cause endometrial growth in check. It is rare for a woman with this vague diagnosis to be told that there is in fact another way that she can control and even alleviate the symptoms of endometriosis.

Endometriosis, just like any other disease, can be mediated by dietary changes. Indeed, one of the frustrations is that the knowledge of what foods increase the chances for endometrial growth is not common knowledge among women in their teens and 20s, who could benefit from changing their diets at a younger age. A lot of research has shown that red meat and caffeine are the two major contributors to endometriosis, with dairy and alcohol being two other contributing factors. “According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, women who have two or more cups of caffeinated coffee (or four cans of cola) per day were found to be twice as likely to develop endometriosis as other women (Grodstein F, Goldman MB, Ryan L, Cramer DW. Relation of female infertility to consumption of caffeinated beverages. Am J Epidemiol. 1993;137:1353-1360.).” On the flip-side, it has been found that “[w]omen having 14 or more servings per week of green vegetables had a 70 percent lower risk of endometriosis compared with those ate fewer than six servings per week. And those eating 14 or more servings of fruit per week had a 20 percent lower risk compared with women having fewer than six servings per week (Parazzini F, Chiaffarino F, Surace M, et al. Selected food intake and risk of endometriosis. Hum Reprod. 2004;19:1755-1759).”

A good overview of all of these studies, and additional information on dietary effects on endometriosis can be found on www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/endometriosis.